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Celtics-Bucks preview 12.08.09 at 11:48 am ET
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Fresh off their four-game road trip, the Celtics entertain the Milwaukee Bucks tonight at the TD Garden in a game featuring two teams heading in opposite directions. The Celtics swept their road trip and have won seven straight, while Milwaukee has dropped seven of its last eight after starting the season 8-3.

CELTICS (16-4, 8-2 last 10)

Points per game: 100.1

Offensive Rating: 109.4 (8th in NBA)

Points allowed: 90.6

Defensive Rating: 99.1 (1st)

Pace: 90.9 (26th)

Likely Starters

G Rajon Rondo

G Ray Allen

F Paul Pierce

F Kevin Garnett

C Kendrick Perkins

BUCKS (9-10, 3-7 last 10)

Points per game: 98.3

Offensive Rating: 103.4 (24th)

Points allowed: 98.3

Defensive Rating: 103.5 (8th)

Pace: 94.0 (9th)

Likely Starters

G Brandon Jennings

G Luc Richard Mbah a Moute

F Carlos Delfino

F Ersan Ilyasova

C Andrew Bogut

Key matchup: Rondo vs. Jennings. The Bucks offense revolves around its rookie guard, particularly with Michael Redd battling a knee injury. Jennings is far and away Milwaukee’s most dominant player, using almost 30 percent of the team’s possessions. The key for Rondo will be to try to keep Jennings in front of him and to challenge his 3-point shot on high pick and rolls. Jennings is in a shooting slump, but he is still shooting 3-pointers at a rate of almost 45 percent.

Milwaukee in a paragraph: Despite their recent struggles, the Bucks have been one of the surprise teams in the Eastern Conference this season. General manager John Hammond began the process of breaking up a team that was over the luxury tax but not producing wins on the court by cutting ties with Charlie Villanueva and Ramon Sessions in the offseason. He will have to wait out the contracts of Redd, Charlie Bell and Dan Gadzuric before making any more drastic changes, but he hit a home run with the selection of Jennings, and coach Scott Skiles knows how to coach competitive defensive-minded teams.

Boston in a paragraph: The Celtics are rolling, but Marquis Daniels is expected to miss time with a wrist injury. That could allow for Tony Allen to make his season debut tonight. If there is a concern for the Celtics it has been their play at home, where they are 7-3 and have been plagued by slow starts in recent games.

What to watch for: This is the Celtics’ only home game before they head out on a three-game road swing. The only piece of unfinished business for them is to earn a convincing win at home. A reeling Bucks team should provide that opportunity.

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Tim Donaghy on D&C, 12/8 12.08.09 at 11:02 am ET
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Disgraced former NBA referee Tim Donaghy was a guest on the Dennis & Callahan show Tuesday morning and talked to the hosts about his method of betting NBA games, whether he thinks NBA players gamble on games (he does), why Rasheed Wallace is so hated by NBA refs and his problems with Doc Rivers.

This book seems like a story about a referee gone bad as much as it is an indictment on the lack of neutrality, integrity and fair competition in the NBA. Is that fair to say?

I think it’s fair to say that there are biases that took place and relationships that allowed me to place winning bets on NBA games.

We’ll get into that, but before we do that, you knew what you were doing was wrong. Your former partner James Battista described you as someone who couldn’t bet successfully on college and pro football, but could on the NBA based on your inside knowledge. Was there a moment where you decided that you would step over the line and bet on games that you were officiating?

Obviously, first of all, I didn’t get into betting on NBA games because I was in a big hole that I needed to climb out. I think it was a situation where over the years I realized that over the years these things were predictable and it was easy for me to place these bets on games knowing that I was going to have a high success rate placing winning bets.

Do you remember the night that you placed your first bet? There had to be a jumping off point where you thought, ‘I know this is wrong. I know I can get into a lot of trouble.’ Do you remember that moment in time?

Yeah I do. It was a situation where I was sitting at a country club with a friend. He had a Philadelphia Daily News and he made a comment to me that, basically, do you know who’s going to win these games? I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to say yes. I knew who was refereeing one particular game that night. There was a large point spread and I knew the habits of one particular referee and I told him to bet this game.

That was Dick Bavetta right?

That’s correct.

When you say you know the habits of referees, whether it’s Dick Bavetta specifically or others, tell us what it is you know that allowed you to predict the outcome before the game is tossed in the air?

It wasn’t every night and every game that we bet. But there were relationships that existed, both positive and negative, and I used those relationships to make up my own line on NBA games. I would compare that line to what was in the newspaper and if there was a difference of four or five points I would tell them to bet the game.

What players were on the [negative] list?

There was Allen Iverson, Rasheed Wallace. Sometimes it had to with an owner. Maybe Mark Cuban [Dallas] or Robert Sarver [Phoenix]. There were situations where I knew personal biases would come into play. Read the rest of this entry »

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Donaghy to Appear on Dennis & Callahan 12.07.09 at 11:29 pm ET
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Former NBA referee Tim Donaghy is scheduled to appear with Dennis & Callahan on Tuesday at 9am. Donaghy was recently released from federal prison after being convicted in a betting scandal. He recently told “60 Minutes” that he did not make calls to affect the outcome of NBA games.

Celtics Injury Update on Daniels, Allen 12.06.09 at 3:51 pm ET
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WALTHAM — Marquis Daniels is expected to miss Tuesday’s game against the Bucks while Tony Allen is expected to play.

Daniels has been battling a left  thumb injury since the November 14 game against the Pacers. He has played with his hand wrapped in tape and has packed it in ice after games. Daniels felt improvement but suffered a setback during practice on Sunday.

“He told me today that he thought it was getting close and then somebody slapped it and it went right back to where it was at at the beginning. And to me, you’ve got to let him take a break,” said Doc Rivers, also noting, “He could play, but my feeling is if it’s going to get worse, let’s sit him out. I don’t know how long. Let’s just see how it goes.”

Rivers is hesitant to announce Allen’s return to the court. The guard underwent right ankle surgery in June and has not played since an October 9 preseason game against the Knicks. Allen has suffered a series of setbacks during his career, most noticeably an ACL/MCL injury in 2007.

Rivers was encouraged that Allen finished practice on Sunday, but that does not necessarily mean he will be cleared to play. He will participate in individual practices on Monday and be evaluated after that.

“He’s done it [finished practice] a couple of other times, and that’s why I’m cautious because the other times, the next day has been the problem. So we’ll find out tomorrow how he feels,” said Rivers.

Allen nabbed a steal and connected on a slam dunk during practice. Rivers encourages Allen to jam, the same way he injured his left knee, to build up his confidence.

“I want him [to]. I think it’s good for him,” he said. “I think he has to do those things. If you’re not going to do it in practice, you’re not going to do it in a game.”

As for Allen, he is ready to get back on the court.

“I”ve been excited ever since the day I got cleared to play,” he said after practice. “Just watching the games, I get excited. Like I said, it’s just a building experience for me with this obstacle that hit me with the ankle injury, but I’m going to get through it. I ain’t looking back.”

Fast break: Celtics-Thunder 12.04.09 at 10:24 pm ET
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Before the Celtics went on their four-game road trip the mood around the team was one of unease. They were winning games, mostly, but they were making things very hard on themselves. The double-digit blowouts were just a distant memory.

One week later the Celtics will return to Boston as the hottest team in the Eastern Conference, winners of seven straight and proud owners of a four-game road sweep. They capped it off with an impressive 105-87 win over the young and exciting Oklahoma City Thunder, a day after gutting out a win over the San Antonio Spurs.

On the trip the Celtics returned to their dominant defensive roots and played smart, efficient basketball on the offensive end. They will have a well-earned three days off before their next game back at the TD Garden against Milwaukee on Tuesday.

Player of the Game: Kevin Garnett. You could have picked any number of Celtics for the coveted Green Street Player of the Game award, but KG gets the nod for scoring 23 points on 10-of-11 shooting with eight rebounds and a couple of tasty dunks. It’s impossible to say at this point if KG is back to being the KG of old, but he sure looked like it on the road trip.

Turning Point: Oklahoma City made it clear early on that it was going to try to run. A good strategy by coach Scott Brooks considering his team’s youth and the Celtics long road trip. There was only one problem: The C’s wanted to run as much as the Thunder did and they did it much, much better. A 15-5 run erased an early three-point lead and put the Celtics in the drivers seat.

* The worst thing that could happen to the Thunder was foul trouble and Nick Collison lived in it all night long. Without Nenad Kristic, the Thunder simply didn’t have enough size to match up with the Celtics inside.

* Garnett got free for a number of easy dunks and he finished strong on each of them. He looks positively rejuvenated on this trip.

* After a slow start Rajon Rondo turned it on in the second half finishing with 15 points and six assists.

* Paul Pierce and Kevin Durant put on a good show in the first half with Durant scoring 22 and Pierce going off for 21 points. Durant is a phenomenal offensive player, but his defense has a long way to go before he can join the upper echelon of stars.

Read More: Celtics, Fast Break, Thunder,
Fast Break: Celtics vs. Spurs 12.03.09 at 11:22 pm ET
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The Celtics and Spurs entered Thursday’s game on five-game winning streaks. At the end of a tense fourth quarter the Celtics came out on top, 90-83, while the Spurs hit a skid.

Kevin Garnett led all players with 20 points while Rajon Rondo orchestrated an all-around attack with 12 points and 12 assists. Paul Pierce had another quiet night, scoring eight points for the second straight game.

The Spurs received very little help from their starting lineup tonight. Tim Duncan and Tony Parker could not win this game alone and the rest of the first unit did little to help. Richard Jefferson scored just six points while while Antonio McDyess and Keith Bogans were scoreless.

Player of the game: His team may not have won but Spurs rookie DeJuan Blair made the biggest impact down the stretch. Blair was a steal at the 37th pick in this year’s draft and proved tonight that he was underestimated. His 18 points were the driving force behind the Spurs fourth quarter run and he showed no signs of intimidation going up against veterans Garnett and Rasheed Wallace. More importantly, he crashed the boards on both ends of the court. The Celtics grabbed just two offensive rebounds as a team while Blair grabbed five offensive and six defensive. Expect to see more of Blair this season.

Turning point: The Spurs cut the Celtics lead to four points late in the fourth and looked to draw even closer as Tony Parker drove the lane on a fastbreak with just over 22 seconds to go. Rondo reached in to strip the ball, which bounced out of bounds off of Parker’s leg. The Celtics regained possession and the Spurs were forced to put them on the line.

– Garnett hit his stride and nailed shot after shot from mid-range (9-15 FG). He added seven rebounds and committed zero turnovers.

– The Spurs shot just 7-for-17 from the free throw line. The Celtics hit 14-of-19.

– The Celtics were outrebounded 55-32. Duncan had 15 boards to Kendrick Perkins seven.

– Rasheed Wallace was a reliable force off the Celtics bench. He posted 13 points, including 3-for-5 three-point shooting.

Grande to Broadcast 1,000th Game 12.03.09 at 3:44 pm ET
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On Thursday night, WEEI Celtics radio broadcaster Sean Grande will call the 1,000th NBA game of his career when the Celtics take on the Spurs in San Antonio. Grande will become just the third broadcaster behind Marv Albert and Ian Eagle to call 1,000 NBA games before the age of 40. He called his first NBA game on December 23, 1997 and has been broadcasting Celtics games for WEEI  since 2001.

Albert “Scooter” Vertino, a senior producer for TNT, met Grande more than 10 years ago when Grande was a television broadcaster for the Timberwolves. He says Grande still exhibits the same qualities that impressed him back then.

“The thing that impresses me most is his preparation. I am sure that most people in his position put in the hours and work hard, but he doesn’t miss a trick. I have seen the numbers he crunches and the quantity is pretty incredible,” Vertino said via email. “The funniest moment I can recall was the Knicks game at Boston two seasons ago. The game was a huge blowout. Pretty sure it was James Posey that dove over the scorer’s table and landed in Sean and Cedric Maxwell’s laps. Posey’s presence was mentioned, but the game call continued.”

The Celtics WEEI pregame program will begin tonight at 7:30 EST. The game will kick off at 8pm.  Click here for the official press release on the 1,000th game milestone.

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